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Habitation licences


Posts: 2
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Topic starter
(@nicklecity)
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Joined: 1 month ago

Hello everyone! 

I know this has been discussed but I still feel like I don't know the answer. We are from Canada and we are interested in buying somewhere in central Portugal. 

We did find a couple of places that we are interested in and I reached out to the realtor.

The first property is older and needs work. The listing says that it has a habitation licence! It comes across as a good and exciting thing that seemingly has a benefit. I'm just not sure what that is yet.

The other property, the realtor says is exempt from a habitation license due to the properties age. It is also old and requires some work.

I'm having a hard time understanding what the purpose of the habitation license is. Or what the benefit is to having one? 

Both properties, while they do need some work, seem livable. They look as though they need new floors, new kitchen cabinets, some paint... Etc.

We are not looking to turn the property into a short term rental. It would just be for us to have to use a month out of each year. 

Are you able to buy an older property that is exempt from a habitation licence and then live in it while you fix it up? 

If you are, then what exactly is the purpose or benefit of buying somewhere old that has the licence already?

Hopefully someone here could shed some more light on this for me!

On a side note, my wife and I are heading to Lisbon in a few weeks and can't wait to get away from the brutal winter we have had.

Thanks all!

 

9 Replies




Posts: 2125
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(@old-bloke)
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Joined: 13 years ago
Posted by: @nicklecity

I'm having a hard time understanding what the purpose of the habitation license is. Or what the benefit is to having one? 

The short answer is it confirms the property met the minimum building standards required for residential use.

Posted by: @nicklecity

The other property, the realtor says is exempt from a habitation license due to the properties age. It is also old and requires some work.

Before habitation licences were introduced there were no minimum standards for residential structures. Homes built prior to 1951 (and used as such rather than just being an outbuilding) will have an entry on the deeds as being built prior to 1951 and therefore exempt from the need for a habitation licence.

Posted by: @nicklecity

Are you able to buy an older property that is exempt from a habitation licence and then live in it while you fix it up? 

Yes.

Posted by: @nicklecity

If you are, then what exactly is the purpose or benefit of buying somewhere old that has the licence already?

You know it has been inspected and was built according to the requirements that were in force at that time.

Posted by: @nicklecity

Hopefully someone here could shed some more light on this for me!

When I was property hunting I viewed properties with habitation licences that I wouldn't house pigs in and pre 1951 exempt properties that shamed some new builds.

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Posts: 191
Ask our Expat Consultant
(@thomasribatejo)
Estimable Member
Joined: 5 years ago

To add to what @old-bloke has already provided:

If your property has a habitation license, or is exempt, wonderful.  Do bear in mind that much of what you may wish to do to restore is may be subject to planning permission, so the fact of it being classed as habitation doesn't mean you can do anything to it automatically.  If it needs a significant overhaul, you need to get professional advice as to the extent of permissions required.  (If it's internal updating/maintenance, unlikely to be an issue.)

The main thing to beware of (in the wider context of the issues you've raised) are properties which are not exempt from licensing, but which do not have habitation licenses.  In simple terms, all internal space is categorised/licensed in some way (unless exempt), so if what you're looking at doesn't have a habitation license, and isn't exempt, it'll be classified as something else - storage, garage, etc.  There are many such properties on the market, many of them listed under "house", in many cases looking like houses and being lived in, at least part-time.  So, for example, an old barn someone has converted themselves, as a holiday home, without going through planning...  Such a property is unlikely to fulfil visa conditions, and has the potential to be an ongoing headache.

If you're using an independent lawyer, they should pick up on these things for you.  You cannot assume you will be able to get the licensing changed (to habitation) - this depends on various factors, and requires discussion with the câmara municipal.  If you need a (non-exempt) property to be licensed for habitation, and it isn't, it may be wise to press for the sellers to regularise things - though of course, they may not wish to do so!

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3 Replies
Community Member
(@sammyj)
Joined: 2 months ago

New Member
Posts: 1

@thomasribatejo hey, just joining the thread, we are looking to move to Portugal and an estate agent told me recently that a house without a habitation license (post 1951) can be lived in if you buy with cash… you only need a habitation license if you are getting a mortgage. Does anyone know this to be true?

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(@old-bloke)
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@sammyj 

It's not true.

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Ask our Expat Consultant
(@thomasribatejo)
Joined: 5 years ago

Estimable Member
Posts: 191

@sammyj as @old-bloke says, no. The payment method is essentially irrelevant to any legalities associated with the land type, licensing, etc. What the agent may mean is, you certainly wouldn't get a mortgage, but you could buy it anyway with cash.

Technically, you might "get away with" living in somewhere without a habitation license or exemption, at least for a time. However, it is really not advisable to enter into any meaningful investment, or international move with residency processes involved, on that basis.

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Posts: 40
Premium Member
(@healthy_move_portugal)
Eminent Member
Joined: 11 months ago

to add what previously was mentioned and explained.
My understanding is that you can "live" in a rural article (not urban or with habitation license) for 9 months of the year as this is seen as maintaining the land and harvesting purposes.
So if you planning on not being at your property for more than 9 months the habitation license or urban article might not that important for you.

Please correct me if i am wrong (and misunderstood this)

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2 Replies
Ask our Expat Consultant
(@thomasribatejo)
Joined: 5 years ago

Estimable Member
Posts: 191

There are two separate, parallel issues here:

Land title - rustic, urban, or mixed (which means part rustic, part urban, not a true third category)

Building licensing - habitation, storage, etc and different buildings on the same title may be differently licensed (or exempt)

It's pretty much "mix and match" across the two, so you can have many combinations.

The land title is primarily relevant to construction (or not); the licensing, to what you can do in/with the buildings.  

So, I am not so much correcting you, as clarifying that you should not confuse these two issues, as they are inherently separate.

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Premium Member
(@healthy_move_portugal)
Joined: 11 months ago

Eminent Member
Posts: 40

@thomasribatejo thank you for clearing this up for me 🙂

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Posts: 2
Community Member
Topic starter
(@nicklecity)
New Member
Joined: 1 month ago

Thank you everyone for the information! This has certainly helped clear a few things up for me!

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